December 31, 2019

ER 5.9, Good Luck, Ruth Johnson: Good Soldiers

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 5:02 pm by Jenn

Ruth looks great for a 100-year-old

Summary: Someone is drunkenly singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” in the ER (because it’s the show’s 100th episode). Jerry complains to Lydia and Haleh about Amanda, as he’s apparently the only person who doesn’t like her. Carol goes to her guest room to wake up Mark multiple times, until Doug blasts an air horn to make him get up for real. Why does he have an air horn? I don’t want to know. Doyle sedates the drunken singer so everyone can get some peace.

Mark thanks Carol and Doug for letting him extend his stay at their place; his place is getting cleared of asbestos. Doug wants to know if Mark said anything to Carol about the date he went on last night. Carol tells him not to bug Mark about it. Despite the sedation, the singer is still murmuring, so Doyle gives him another injection. It still doesn’t work.

Weaver yells down to Carter’s room to wake him up. He asks Roxanne if she set the alarm, but realizes Roxanne isn’t in bed with him. I guess Doug bugged Mark about his date anyway, because Mark is now denying that it was a date. He went to dinner with Amanda, just to be nice, but there wasn’t anything romantic about it. Doug calls bull.

Roxanne tells Carter she got up early to check the Japanese stock market. I mean, of course. The two of them and Weaver head to the El together, the two women talking about Weaver’s stock portfolio. Amanda gets paged to deal with the drunk, but Haleh and Lydia tell her that they worked everything out. They try to make nice between Amanda and Jerry by telling her that he helped with the drunk. Amanda compliments them on their work, except the drunk is still singing. Ha ha?

Amanda gives some exposition to Weaver, Carter, and Mark that it’s the hospital’s 100th anniversary. Ruth Johnson, born at County exactly 100 years ago, was supposed to come that afternoon with her family for a photo op for the Tribune. They came early, and the photographer can’t come until later, so they need to entertain the family for a while. Amanda wants Carter to give them a tour. Carter tries to pass the duties along to Lucy, but Amanda sticks with her choice. Mark and Weaver agree, since Carter’s in a sling from his south side adventures and needs a light day anyway. Weaver likes Amanda’s leadership skills.

Lucy struggles to treat an uncooperative kid while Carol pulls Doug away to treat an eight-year-old boy named Wilson who was hit by a car while riding his bike. He says someone was chasing him and his friend, Andy. While they’re tending to Wilson, Lily tells Doug that another eight-year-old is coming in, this one with a gunshot wound. Elizabeth is preparing for an M&M on Mr. Ramos, worrying that she’ll face the same harsh scrutiny Benton did at his M&M for Dr. Swanson. Benton gets called away from their conversation to observe one of Kotlowitz’s cochlear-implantation surgeries. He promises to be back in time for the M&M.

Weaver runs the trauma on the other eight-year-old, whom Carol thinks might be Andy. Reggie is investigating and is able to confirm for Carol that the second boy is Andy. Carter goes looking for Anspaugh, but Shirley keeps him out of the OR where Anspaugh’s working. She orders him be a good soldier and give Ruth and her family the tour he’s expected to give. Carter puts on his nice personality and plays tour guide. Despite being 100, Ruth is still mobile and mentally spry, though she agrees to be wheeled around in a wheelchair for the tour.

Reggie tells Carol that Andy’s parents have arrived, but Wilson’s parents are out of town; he was staying with Andy. Andy didn’t survive, and Weaver offers to talk to them if Doug is too busy. Carol goes to see Wilson and give him the news that his friend is dead. Elizabeth gets one light moment in her intense day when she sees Carter, Ruth, and Ruth’s whole family crammed into one elevator. Romano promises he’s on her side for the M&M, then gives her a hug for luck. Elizabeth basically has this reaction.

A detective named Wilson has taken over the investigation, bonding with Wilson over how they have the same name. He asks Wilson about the man chasing him and Andy, but the boy isn’t very forthcoming. Carter runs into Anspaugh, who can’t believe the tour group is still on the surgical floor. Carter says they left and came back because the family likes this floor so much. They even want to observe and operation. Anspaugh chastises Carter for not being more positive about leading the tour. Ruth, who appears to be sleeping, admits to Carter that she’s just faking so she doesn’t have to talk to anyone.

Kotlowitz tells a couple, the Shimaharas, about the procedure he’s going to perform on their three-year-old, Patrick. Benton tells the couple that Kotlowitz is a great doctor, very aggressive, by which he means Kotlowitz is accomplished. They’ve looked at every possibility for their son, and they know a cochlear implant isn’t a cure for deafness, but they believe this is what’s best for him.

Carter sneaks Ruth outside so they can spend some time away from her family. He asks what it feels like to have had 100 birthdays. “Downright appalling,” she replies. She reminds Carter that the river used to run in the opposite direction. Her husband built the buildings around them, and was successful enough to make money to send all their kids to college.

Carter figures they must have appreciated it, since they’re so devoted to Ruth. Ruth thinks that’s how a family should be. Carter tells her that not all families are that close. For instance, his parents travel a lot and aren’t around much. She tells him to keep his depressing story to himself; she gets enough complaints about family from the other people in her retirement home. Ruth thinks she and her husband were very lucky to get the family they got.

Andy’s mother and her boyfriend, Carl, have been told about Andy’s death and are waiting for some administrative things to get wrapped up. They want to talk to Wilson, but Carol doesn’t think he’ll tell them more than he told the police. Andy’s mother begs to see the last person to spend time with her son. When Carol arranges for the meeting, Carl angrily asks if the boys were skipping school again. Andy’s mother points out that, with Andy dead, it won’t happen again.

Kotlowitz tells Benton that, despite his young age, Reese is eligible for a cochlear implant and can be scheduled for as soon as next week, since Kotlowitz had a cancellation. Benton agrees, though he’s not that enthusiastic about it. He observes Patrick’s surgery, which makes him uneasy. Wilson tells Carol that he didn’t tell the police everything he remembers. He and Andy had seen the man chasing them before, and he might be able to recognize him if shown a picture. Mark helps Amanda search a trauma room for something while they talk about a study she’d like him to conduct.

At the M&M (which Benton arrives at a little late), Elizabeth fields questions from Dale, Kayson, and Romano. Benton defends her actions, thinking the outcome of the case is more important than Elizabeth’s mistake. Elizabeth announces that M&Ms have always been about covering up mistakes. Instead, the doctors should embrace them so they can learn from them and improve the system.

Elizabeth’s medical training wasn’t the problem in this instance – it was that she was exhausted after working a 36-hour shift. Air-traffic controllers work only four to six hours a day, with a break after no more than two hours. Hospitals shouldn’t allow surgical interns to work for 36 hours straights without sleep just because that’s always the way it’s been. Would anyone want to fly on a plane knowing the controller has been awake for 6 hours?

Carter takes his tour group to the nursery for their photo op. Ruth appears to be asleep again, but this time she’s not faking. Carter calls for a crash cart. Andy’s mother tells Carol that Andy and Wilson’s clothes seem to have gotten mixed up. Wilson’s sneakers are with Andy’s clothes, and Andy’s boots are missing. Carol finds the boots in with Wilson’s clothes…as well as some bullets.

She goes back to Wilson and gets him to talk about how close he and Andy were, so close that they sometimes shared things like toys, clothes, and boots. Wilson says that Andy would never share his boots. Carol asks why Wilson was wearing them when he came in. Wilson says they had a bet to see who could get to the park faster. He won and was supposed to get the boots as his prize, but Andy wouldn’t hand them over.

Wilson says the bullets are his father’s, and he used them to shoot Andy when he wouldn’t give Wilson the boots. He just wanted to scare him since Andy didn’t stick to the bet. Wilson doesn’t seem to get that he did anything wrong – Andy acted unfairly by not honoring the bet, so Wilson was allowed to retaliate. He thinks that if the car hadn’t hit him, everything would have been fine. He asks Carol not to tell his dad that he threw away the gun.

Carol takes all this to Detective Wilson, Amanda, and Weaver, upset that, because he’s only eight, Wilson probably won’t face a harsh punishment. Weaver isn’t sure he can even understand how horrible his actions were. Carol thinks he can, but Detective Wilson notes that his intention was to scare Andy, not kill him. Carol says that shouldn’t matter.

Wilson will have to be assessed, and someone will have to determine whether he knows the difference between right and wrong. Carol argues that he does; why else would he make up a story about a man chasing them? Weaver asks if Wilson has shown remorse. Carol says he’s only sorry that he ditched the gun because his father might get mad. Carol can’t believe that no one knows what to do with the kid.

Once he’s taken care of Ruth in the ER, Carter tells the family that she choked on a piece of candy but is now okay. They all swarm into the room because they have no boundaries. Weaver learns that Amanda has spent the day looking for an earring, which Amanda says had sentimental value. It was a present from her one-time fiancé, who died in a freak horseback-riding accident.

Benton checks on Patrick post-op, then calls Kotlowitz to ask to postpone Reese’s surgery. He doesn’t want to destroy Reese’s residual hearing just yet. Plus, technology keeps changing, so Benton doesn’t want to rush into anything. Wilson can sense that Carol’s mad at him “about something,” but she says she’s just sad about what happened to Andy. Wilson wishes Andy could be in one of the beds nearby so they could hang out together. Carol asks if he understands what it means to be sad or to do something wrong. He doesn’t answer.

The M&M outcome states that Elizabeth didn’t do anything wrong, so she won’t suffer any consequences. Benton tells her that everyone seemed shocked when she suggested a chance to a system that’s been in place for so long. Elizabeth notes that the two of them never make the same choices. Now, they should. It’s pretty clear that their relationship has changed, so they should break up.

Benton tries to say that he needs to focus on Reese right now, which leaves him without time for Elizabeth, but she thinks they should just admit that the relationship has run its course. She’s not mad that he needs to make Reese a priority. Maybe they would be better off as friends. So there you have it, one of the only mutually agreed-upon, least-combative breakups in history.

Carol tells Doug that she met Wilson’s parents, who seem really normal. She figured they would be monsters, since they raised a messed-up kid. She doesn’t get why Wilson did what he did. “Stuff happens,” Doug says, which she doesn’t think is adequate. Is it his genes? Video games? Hidden neglect or abuse? It scares her – if you don’t know what causes a child to act that way, how can you stop it? Children are always seen as helpless, but maybe it’s the parents. Doug says you just have to love and teach children the best you can, then wish them good luck.

Mark invites Amanda to get a drink, which she upgrades to dinner. Is this also not a date, Mark? Doug teases that his curfew is 11:00. As he and Carol are leaving, a car screeches up to the ambulance bay with a laboring woman inside. She’s one of Ruth’s relatives, and she figures all the excitement of the day put her in labor a couple weeks early. She announces that if the baby is a girl, she should be named Ruth. Her husband agrees, and luckily, the baby is a girl, born on the original Ruth’s 100th birthday. As Carol and Doug get the baby cleaned up, Carol wishes her good luck.

Thoughts: Mrs. Shimahara is played by Keiko Agena.

Shirley’s awesome and never gets enough recognition. I mean, blocking Carter from Anspaugh’s ER and telling him to “be a good soldier”? Hero.

I kind of think Carol might have given up on having kids after all the Wilson stuff if she hadn’t then helped deliver the baby. That girl gave Carol back her baby fever.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Shirley and Kit are two of the most underrated nurses on the show. Both are completely no-nonsense when they need to be and know how to handle every surgeon’s massive ego with equal attitude when justified.

    I’m still feeling like the episodes are a bit jarringly edited.

    The kid playing Wilson did a good job. I do think it’s innate in kids to lie when they know they’ve done wrong and get caught for it; he made up the whole story about some guy chasing them, like Carol indicated, which he wouldn’t have bothered to do if he didn’t know it was wrong to shoot (or scare) Andy. That kid has a lot of psych appointments in his future.

    You’d think Carter would get along well with Ruth since he gets along so well with his Gamma. I mean, he was a good choice for this as he can be respectful when circumstances require, and I loved that she shut down his sad-sack story immediately. I don’t quite get why he’s still dating Roxanne when they clearly have such divergent interests; I think he was thinking the same thing as he walked behind her and Weaver in the morning.

    Elizabeth deserved better than all this. Knowing now that Eriq La Salle wanted the relationship to end because from his perspective this white woman was the only successful romantic relationship he’d had on the show to date and that sent a bad message… I mean, he had a chance with Carla but that wasn’t a good pairing of personalities. Nothing to do with skin color — she was interested in more than he could give and she was too strong of a personality for him to handle, really. I just think Elizabeth deserved to tell Peter off a bit. They were both preoccupied with changes in their lives that basically Peter wasn’t interested in sharing; she tried sharing about the stressors in her life and tried sharing in Reese’s hearing difficulties, but Peter wouldn’t let her in. Jackie’s going to have something to say about this!


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